This week I’ve asked my dear friend, Diane O’Neal to blog about her life and experiences. She’s a regular reader here and posts quite often, so you might “know” her, but since she lives, what I humbly think of, a most extraordinary life, I wanted all of you to get to know her a little better. We went to Italy last week, now join me as we tour the world with Diane:
Hi, I’m Diane O’Neal and Elizabeth asked me to be a guest blogger and to tell you a little about my life. I’ve never blogged before, but I read lots of them, so here we go.
For the past 15 years I’ve lived in Paraguay, England, the USA, Israel, Holland, Pakistan and in October, I’ll be moving to Canberra, Australia. I am a Foreign Service Secretary, in State Department speak an Office Management Specialist. It’s a great job, I get to travel, save money, and serve my country. I’ve been able to visit about 30 countries including Egypt, Croatia, India, Japan and most, though not all, of the countries in Europe. After I get to Australia I’ll have lived on five of our seven continents (South America, Europe, North America, Asia and Australia). I still have two continents left: Africa and Antarctica, but as we have not diplomatic outposts in the latter I guess I won’t serve there, but after Australia, I want to go to Africa.
It’s been fantastic, but it also gets lonely and I have to make a strong effort to keep up my friendships with those back home like my extended family, Elizabeth and other Washington state friends, and the friends I’ve made at my postings overseas. It’s very difficult to miss important family events and to spend the holidays alone. Thankfully, email has made it so much easier to keep in touch with people, but I find I miss the envelope in the mail that signifies a letter. I wonder if that is why I tend to internet shop too much, hmm…will have to think on that a bit.
I’ve always read a lot and always bring my old favorites along from post to post — when I get lonely I crack open an old favorite and lose myself. I read mostly genre fiction, romance, mysteries and fantasy. My favorite authors are Elizabeth Boyle, Julia Quinn, Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, Jane Austen, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Lindsay Davis‘ Falco series. Two of my favorite books of all time are Restoree by Anne McCaffrey and The Proud Breed by Celeste de Blasis, a close runner-up is Tapestry of Dreams by Roberta Gellis. I’ve read all three of those books too many times to count, particularly over the past 15 years.
I’m Diane and I’m a book addict.
If my shelf is running low I get antsy until I stock it up again — I’m at that point now. I love the military postal system, but sometimes it’s too sloooowww. I just finished The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseni and it was really hard for me to read, but ultimately worthwhile. Next up is the Swan trilogy by Celeste de Blasis.
Life in each of my postings has been very different. In Paraguay I had to speak Spanish to be able to do the daily tasks of life, I rode an old-fashioned steam train and saw the largest waterfalls in the world at Iguazu Falls. In London I actually had visitors for the first time and I loved showing them around, including Elizabeth, I loved going to Bath and walking in Jane Austen’s footsteps. In Tel Aviv I enjoyed seeing the historical sites and going to Akko (I’m still waiting for that book, Elizabeth!) and having an apartment with a slip of a view of the Mediterranean. In Holland it was riding bikes everywhere and the ease of driving around Europe and an apartment with two large picture window views of the North Sea. In Pakistan it’s the nerve-wracking idea that something could happen at any time and does, and buying furniture, shawls and handicrafts and good prices. It’s all been an adventure that I have never regretted and when I finally hand in my diplomatic passport it will be with a lot of sadness, but then I will take out my regular passport and plan my next adventure!
Hi! That sounds really exciting, Diane. I have to admit that I love traveling on the military’s dime. I’m glad that you’ve managed to stay close to friends — I imagine that moving around can be quite lonely. It must be very nice to have the internet!
And… I just have to say that — WOW! — I thought i was the only person in the entire world to have read the Swan trilogy by Celeste de Blasis. No one I’ve ever talked to has even heard of them, and I love them. From the books you’ve mentioned so far, I think you’ve got fantastic taste.
Hi Diane! What a fantastic job and life you have! i hae to echo Janelle (hi Janelle) here and say you have great taste in books!
Here’s to many more adventures for you!
Diane, what a marvelous blog. Loved seeing all your pictures. And my goodness, the places you’ve lived in. WOW! The beauty of the Taj Mahal never becomes commonplace no matter how many photographs I see of it. Were you part of a Pakistani wedding in the third picture? And is that the Matterhorn in the second?
Whoops. I meant #4 and #3 above. Happy adventuring.
Picture 3 is with my parents at Jungfraujoch in Switzerland, they say its the highest point in Europe. It was gorgeous, it was the first time I felt the difference in altitude. Wow, it was intense for a few minutes there — dizzy, spots before my eyes.
Picture 4 is a Pakistani wedding, they actually take 3 days, 4 if the families are rich. The first day is the Mehendi Party where they put the henna on the brides (and other ladies) hands and feet. The Walima which is dancing and the final night which is the one I went was like a reception we have at home except the bride and groom sit up on the dais the entire time. People go up and sit in the chairs next to them get video and photos taken and then more go up. Nazish, the bride looked beautiful in her dress and said it was very, very heavy, plus all the jewelry. She and her husband were sweating quite a lot and someone would come up to them with a kleenex and blot them dry every now and them. It was fun.